We’d rush down before mum dropped the ladle
on the frame of the pot, stew still popping
pepper permeating the walls
we’d pray and hold hands,
and grace distinctly Nigerian meals
with British culinary etiquette
till the very last drumstick.
Dad would come home and
we’d rush to his tree trunk legs and dangle
as he dragged us to the living room where
we’d take off his shoes and
pull smelly faces at his socks
and he’ll tell a long tale about our lineage
till we fell asleep
one day, the socks really do smell
and we don’t want to hold hands
because someone is too proud to say sorry
and it sits in the air till the stew gets cold
and we don’t watch Saturday night TV on the sofa anymore
and we’re too old for bedtime stories
bored of ancient glories
and then finally we shed skins and leave.
You come home, eventually
they’re a little greyer
and you recognise some of their darkness in you
and it shadows you, humbles you
and they talk to you like you’re friends,
because friends are those who stick around
and family is what you’re stuck with.
my heart is a balloon
and I am always surprised by how far it can stretch.
I am yet to pop from surprise birthdays and
handmade gifts and framed summer photographs
a quiet kiss, a grazed hand, breakfast…
I just expand and expand with the helium of possibilites
to make cherished ones know they are my suns
and so I love because I can.
I want to small talk with you
convert fahrenheit to celsius and weather the minutes with you
pretend I haven’t imagined the names of
our two children, Grace and Ezra and our home
by the coast with three bedrooms and sandstone drive,
with neighbours that bring cookies
and schools that do ski trips.
Let’s talk about where you’ve been,
what makes Prague your favourite city
and if you prefer beaches to hikes
then spend the next eighty years making paper
planes from filled passports and foreign postcards,
together till there are no ports or cities and there’s just us
doing small talk.
As men we are taught to be diamonds
even when we ought to be china.
Our carats are measured in stature and shine
in shoulders and stance.
To be a gem is to be dashed to pieces,
pieces malleable to fit into rings
and other things deemed
more precious than being whole.
And I am not a diamond.